How bereavement benefits should change

Thanks very much to everyone who commented when we recently asked about your experiences with bereavement benefits. I just wanted to let you know that Sue Ryder has now made a series of recommendations to the government, based on what you and other bereaved people have told us:

  • Extend the eligibility for Bereavement Support Payment to include unmarried couples, in addition to married or civil partners.
  • Extend the deadline within which people must apply for the benefit from three months to two years, or find a way to ensure it is paid automatically without having to apply. A bereaved person is likely to still be coming to terms with their loss in the first three months and applying for benefits during that period can often feel too much.
  • The 18-month period for payments should be extended or be made more flexible to allow for individual circumstances. This could be particularly supportive for those with dependent children or older adults.
  • Create a simple, easy to navigate hub offering advice on all of the practical aspects of handling a death, including benefits and financial assistance.

Read more about our recommendations and download our full submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry on Bereavement Support Payment:

If you’d like to know more about the current bereavement benefit, find out more here:

If you are struggling financially after bereavement, contact Citizen’s Advice or Turn2Us to find out about benefits and financial support.

Excellent and through submission and links to information. Well done all .


A quick update for those who are interested in this - as a result of the written evidence we submitted, our Chief Nurse Sarah Gigg has been invited to give evidence in person to the Select Committee hearing. She will be doing this next week on 5th June. I’ll share a video after the event.

That’s great … I was left with nothing after my husbands death last year … and with two young children I had never asked the government for help my whole life … feel completely let down by them

as an unmarried man whose partner was the bread winner ,whilst i was responsible for doing everything round the house and shopping etc etc,and no only are you enititled to nothing as regards anything of Jaynes ,your not entitled to any bereavement help financially at all.we live in a modern world,and all the rules and regulations regarding unmarried couples is in the dark ages.just my 2 cents,regards ian

Hi Ian,

I’m so sorry that you haven’t been entitled to anything due to not being married to Jayne. It does seem very unfair as your relationship is just as valid and you are grieving as much as a married person. Sue Ryder is recommending that this rule be changed so that unmarried partners can claim bereavement benefit in future. We will have to see what the result of the enquiry is but I will post an update when I have one.

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The situation in respect of unmarried couples with children, who are also denied Bereavement Support, has been ruled unlawful by Supreme Court in August 2018 but as yet still not amended by Govt. See attached link. Helpful for those affected to be aware of situation.

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There is a video from the Select Committee inquiry available to watch for those who are interested. The section with our Chief Nurse giving evidence starts at 10:43 in the video:

We will update more when we know the results of the inquiry.

This is really hard hitting (sad face) One can only hope it brings about some changes. As I pointed out in my own response, the impact on those with children is dreadful. Well done to the women who gave such an insight to their own personal loss.

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hi Priscilla
i just hope things change in the future so that every body whether married or unmarried if their partner wife husband whoever,dies the one left behind gets the same help ,and not get excluded because married or not youve got the same emotions and financial problems to face.fingers crossed its gets sorted soon for future generations of bereaved men ,women and children
regards ian

the impact on anyone who loses a partner is dreadful,in some cases as regards emotions and support it can really bad for those left alone.lets not isolate the unmarried partners with no children.
regards ian

Just to reassure you that I wasn’t personally isolating unmarried bereaved partners. I am a retired welfare rights worker who in my job visited tenants who has lost there partner. The system has never financially supported unmarried couples if one passes away. The only provision for a little bit of ease was allowing a run on of the recognition of being a carer if you had carers allowance it runs on for 8 weeks. That hasn’t changed. What has changed dramatically is the more limited financial help for those who have to turn to the state for help after losing a partner and that includes unmarried parents. I include them as the Supreme Court upheld that excluding them (the children) from financial support was wrong. Even so 9 months on, no change. The help is very time limited as discussed at the hearing. The impact dreadful. I myself lost my husband after 45 years of marriage, he worked from 16, has his state pension for 16 months and the state valued his death at £24 a week Bereavement Support to me. But I do feel there is a bigger problem for those not married and in a clearly established partnership and that is where you stand as a next of kin and the exclusion you are placed in. That is heart breaking. What the enquiry is showing clearly is the dreadful emotional position of anyone who loses their partner. We all hope it can be improved for everyone. In the meantime it has encouraged me to offer my experience as a volunteer to a cancer charity and give financial and practical support as a bereavement visitor.